The Captain storms Port Phillip Bay in a Stabicraft 2400 Supecab. The Target: King George Whiting.
The rain was pissing down sideways, the wind was well over 20 knots and thick cloud cover cloaked the night sky. We were almost ready to call it quits, but then a rod buckled. Eager eyes peered into the pitch-black water looking for that skinny silver flash of a King George whiting. They’d evaded our better attempts for most of the afternoon, but when it comes to whiting, when you catch one there’s usually more snuffling around. After a spirited fight in shallow water, a nice King George was hoisted over the chunky gunwales of the Stabi and plopped straight into the live-bait tank. Shortly after, a second rod buckled, then a third. The boys had bloodlust in their eyes and worked the bait station like a pipi processing plant, protected from the elements underneath the hardtop.
When whiting season comes around, The Captain gets a strange itch, the sort of itch that can only be scratched by floppy rods and a plate full of fresh whiting fillets. Or he might just be getting a cold sore. Should probably get that checked out. Anyways, with whiting on the brain, we planned a road trip to Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. We got in touch with a fella called Andrew, who’d just bought a Stabicraft 2400 Supercab. He’s spared no expense setting up this rig, ticking almost every box on the options list, and keen to show her off, he kindly invited us out for a couple of days’ fishing. We wasted no time accepting his offer and before you could say: “Willy Wonka walloped whiting”, we’d arrived at the boat ramp and were loading our gear onto the shiny new 2400.
The first thing we noticed about the 2400 was the marvelous layout and fishing functionality. Generally speaking, no matter what size, Stabis tend to have a similar cockpit configuration – and that’s simply because it works. It has the classic Stabi wide gunwales, rear kick-down seating and, no doubt, the best bait station in class with the centralised live bait tank, bait board, rod holders, drink holders and elevated battery locker. It’s so good, in fact, we’re not sure why more manufacturers haven’t tried copying it. Andrew has also opted for non-skid tube flooring, which was a nice touch and felt great underfoot, as well as twin wash-down pumps (raw and 100L of fresh water). He’s also put in additional rod storage with vertical racks at midships and a padded esky in the middle of the deck for when it’s brewski time. Overall, it’s a seriously functional working area that pairs commercial boat practicality with modern technology.
BELLY OF THE BEAST
Step inside the cabin and you’re immediately transported from practicality to luxury. There’s comfy bolstered seating, a huge V-berth and an upholstered finish throughout that makes you forget you’re actually in an aluminum boat. The only drawback was that the stinky kill tank was located inside the cabin. If the plugs are left open, it can overflow and get your toes wet. When it comes to customising, Andrew has got fancy seat boxes made up to house a cooker and sink – quite a neat little set-up for family weekends away. The big hardtop also has heaps of headroom, killer visibility and a windscreen that doesn’t leak – something that really gets on our nerves. The dash layout is clean and sleek with a twin Garmin set-up and triple Honda gauges, which as we found out, looked even better at night than during the day. This rig also features the optional bi-fold cabin door, quite often though when these are fitted to other boats they can ruin its visibility and tend to funk up the feng shui. However, this addition was a godsend in the miserable Victorian weather and if I were ordering my new 24ft, it would be coming with a bi-fold cabin door fo sho!
After poking and prodding Andrew’s pride and joy, it was time to get to business. We dropped the tomahawks on the twin 155HP Hondas and headed for the squid grounds. What immediately became apparent was the quietness of the ride as we skipped over short, sharp chop. Andrew told me, with a sly smile, that he’d opted for the foaminjected pontoons. It was without a doubt the quietest aluminum boat we’ve ever been aboard. The handling characteristics were great, too – she ate it up in a straight line and stayed flat as a pancake into turns. From a safety perspective, they’re a forgiving hull that anyone can drive, whether first-time boat owner or captain of the QE 2.
Arriving at the squid grounds, it only took a couple of drifts to pick up enough calamari for a feed. The boat easily fished three big blokes across the transom and the additional snapper racks meant we could work two rods each. The Stabi was just as capable in the shallow water as it was in the deep. We were able to get right up onto the sandy weed beds and ping jigs at the unsuspecting calamari.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
Although the squid and aforementioned whiting session is mere fraction of what the Stabicraft 2400 Supercab is capable of, it shows how versatile these boats are. This rig would be just as capable of hitting the far reaches of the continental shelf in search of giant blue marlin. Andrew has big plans for it and has already fitted the ‘riggers for Portland bluefin missions. As a coastal touring rig, bay fisher or deep-water game-fisher the 2400 is on the money – and it’ll do it in safety and style.